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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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3SS                                LIFE   OF
creation had scarcely entered into lite, when it turned
indirectly against Its originator., Hardenberg; and it
was Elumboldt "who led the attack, and gave it import-
ance by Ms weighty name.
A great change had taken place in the condition of
during   some   years,   and it  seemed doubtful
•whether the chancellor could stand             them. The
great merits cf Hardenberg cannot be denied.     He
courageously directed the government at a period
of oppression ; lie had founded a free peasantry ; had
lessened tLe privileges of the aristocracy, and had
created rights of humanity, without which civic rights
•woiiM be nugatory. The v*~ar tiien interrupted Ms
activity, and he again showed praiseworthy qualities
in liis direction of foreign politics, especially during'
the critical years of 1811 to ISIS. Difficult as the
times were, they favoured his liberal policy in many
respects; the king supported him. against Ms oppo-
nexttSj for the privileges of tie crown were scarcely
affected. But when tie opposition increased, the
chancellor's weakness became more prominent, espe-
cially Ms want of energy,—an IE decision and hesita-
tion which avoided letting; matters come to a crisis,—
a conceding and weak policy where lie should have
made a bold stand against Ms opponents* "Vain of
Ms position, lie tried to keep it by any           ; jealous
of talents which might surpass him, he endeavoured
to remove such talents irom the affairs, or at least
from their central point 5 "while nnworthy individuals
frequently succeeded in gaining Ms favour, and with
it power and influence. But he was especially want-
Ing in manly force to lead tie vessel of state much.
longer in troubled times. He liked to put a check
on one minister by the presence of another, but they
T7ere soon too strong, and lie was        that by siding1
frith the victorious party lie could at least keep his
It was natural that a reaction should take place to
a certain extent.     The  public spirit had become so
during the war, so many high-flown topes